If you grew up in the 50s and 60s, then there's a good chance your father was an avid reader of men's pulp magazines. These incomparable publications always had dynamic art on the cover that would be deemed so politically incorrect today that feminists would march on the publisher's headquarters with torches and pitchforks. For the WWII generation, however, the mags provided a way of enjoying sexually-driven stories with a decidedly S&M flavor. Inevitably the covers featured incredible art of women being enslaved, tortured or abused by Nazis, Japanese troops or other vintage enemy forces. In the course of the accompanying story, the women always manage to get the upper hand and dispatch their tormentors, often wielding machine guns along side their cigar-chomping G.I. saviors. The other sexual angles to these issues included "warnings" that nymphomania was spreading among college girls or in that dreaded modern version of Sodom and Gomorrah, "suburbia". (The word itself once seemed synonymous with orgies and wife swapping.) Now there is a superb blog that pays homage to this bygone era of tasteless entertainment: www.menspulpmags.com The biggest advantage is that you no longer have to sneak into your old man's stash of magazines and read them under the covers. - Lee Pfeiffer
one of the best trilogies ever put on celluloid.Period.
trio of films by the late Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski can be
ambiguously described by these adjectives:insightful, enigmatic, mysterious, melancholic, personal, beautiful,
ironic, allegorical, and colorful.
house cinema movie-goers are most likely well familiar with these works,
initially released in 1993 and 1994.Kieslowski was a preeminent filmmaker working since the 1970s behind the
Iron Curtain and was relatively unknown to the West until the fall of the
Soviet Union in 1989.Then, a flood of
previous entries in his oeuvre amazed
and challenged a new worldwide audience.His ten-part Polish television series from 1988, The Decalogue, became one of the most celebrated events in media. Now
free to work where he wished and make what he wanted, Kieslowski moved to
France and received funding for more ambitious projects such as The Double Life of Veronique (1991), a
co-French and co-Polish production.This
same configuration resulted in his masterpiece, the Three Colors trilogy of Blue,
White, and Red.The accolades and awards
were promptly showered on these unique films, and they were well deserved.
is a filmmaker who likes to take a general concept, say, the “Ten
Commandments,” and then turn it upside down and examine it from a modern perspective.The
Decalogue did this by presenting the theme of each commandment re-imagined
in a modern context full of double meanings, coincidences, and irony.With his co-screenwriter, Krzysztof
Piesiewicz, he did the same in Three
Colors, which loosely examines the tenets behind the colors of the French
national flag—liberty, equality, and fraternity.
I've just read your online review of Red, White and Zero and thought I'd clear
up some of the mysteries surrounding MGM's DVD release before someone else
does! The title given to the DVD is in fact the intended title of the
three-part omnibus film you mention, which seems never to have been shown
commercially in its complete form, though both other parts were in fact
completed and still exist. The White Bus is the correct and, to the best of my
knowledge, only release title of Lindsay Anderson's contribution; the composite
title was never used.
Tony Richardson's episode was called Red and Blue and starred Vanessa Redgrave
and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. (!) It's a short romantic musical, seemingly
influenced (like much of Richardson's 1960s work) by the French New Wave and
especially Jacques Demy. It was the supporting featurette to The Graduate when
the latter (released by United Artists in the UK, not Embassy) opened at the
London Pavilion in 1968, but public complaints caused it to be pulled before the
main feature had completed its run. A slightly faded colour print exists in the
BFI Archive and I have shown it myself at the Showroom in Sheffield, which may
have been one of its very few commercial screenings.
The third and shortest segment of the omnibus film is Ride of the Valkyrie
which stars - you guessed it - Zero Mostel as an opera singer involved in a
"madcap" chase to the tune of - you guessed it again - "Ride of
the Valkyries". I'm not aware of its having had a commercial release in
the UK (though IMDb indicates a December 1979 screening in the US), but I
certainly remember it being shown on TV here in the 1970s.
For the record, Ride of the Valkyrie was directed (badly) by Peter Brook. Red and Blue is quite favorably reviewed in the October 1968 issue of Films and Filming. The September issue indicates is was meant to support The Graduate on general release, but it is omitted from subsequent listings. I assume that after its disastrous London engagement it was shelved altogether.
MGM could easily have performed a public service by putting the three films
together for the first time on home video if someone there had known what they
were doing. But as I recall all three were shown together at a conference I
attended at the University of Stirling a few years ago, the location of the
Lindsay Anderson Archive; the screening venue was the Macrobert Arts Centre on
the university campus. So the full version has actually been shown, if only to
a specialised academic audience. I can see why UA didn't want to release it!
RETRO RESPONDS: Ah, Sheldon- I should have known that a Cinema Retro contributor would hold they keys to this mystery. This minor film has generated a lot of interest among our readers, thus they'll be happy to know how Redgrave and Mostel came to be associated with the original errant packaging by MGM. To be fair to the studio, there is no evidence that the packaging was ever released. I think the photo in question in my review just pertains to an early prototype done for marketing purposes. Apparently, the error was caught in time as the screener we received has correct packaging. As for releasing the entire film, let's just say that the right people are reading this so perhaps they will. It might be, however, that the master prints are in poor condition. Studios are reluctant to sink substantial money into restoring films that have limited financial prospects. Although I'm not a fan of The White Bus, I do appreciate the fact that MGM has put it out. It's an interesting experiment by a man who would become a respected director.
(Sheldon Hall teaches film studies at the University of Sheffield and is the author of numerous books about the cinema.)
Update: Reader Dave Williams advises that The White Bus is also available for streaming through Netflix.
A lineup of Eon crew, past and present: Peter Lamont, Anthony Waye, Vic Armstrong, Alan Tomkins, Terry Bamber.
By Dave Worrall
Photos by Mark Mawston (Copyright 2011, all rights reserved)
highlight of yesterday's Bondstars Christmas party at Pinewood Studios was an
on-stage talk by Alan Church, who worked with Maurice Binder on many of the
James Bond film title sequences. Alan showed the 120+ audience a DVD of behind
the scenes footage of Binder filming the titles for Licence To KIll, detailing how he filmed a scantily-clad model
dancing around and firing a gun. It was fascinating to see Binder directing
every move with attention to detail, using a wind machine, filming with
slow-motion cameras, and even painting out skin blemish's on the model's body!
Jenny Hanley emcees the Mastermind contest event.
to this, organizer Gareth Owen interviewed past crew members on stage,
including stunt arranger and second unit director Vic Armstrong and producer
Anthony Waye. Guests in attendanceincluded Margaret Nolan, Shane Rimmer, Britt Ekland, John Moreno, Tom
Chadbon, Keith Hampshire, Peter Lamont, Pavel Douglas, Doug Robinson, Tom So
(who auctioned off on stage a Casino
Royale crew jacket he donated for charity), and Beatrice Libert, who played
one of Drax's girls in Moonraker, to
name but a few.
Attendees watching the on-stage activities in the ballroom.
in the afternoon Michael Chance performed a portion of his one-man show; 'The
Man With The Golden Pen', and On Her Majesty's Secret Service actress Jenny Hanley hosted the Bondstars
Mastermind Quiz, which was very entertaining, especially when 2nd unit
production manager Terry Bamber took to the stage (unaware it was a set-up by
the organizers), who had to answer ten questions whereby the sometimes embarrassing answers were inevitably about himself! As usual, Terry was a great sport and went with the flow with everyone clapping and
roaring with laughter, which pretty much summed up the mood of the entire day - a load of fun.
Christian Bale says his acclaimed stint as Batman will end with the release of the next film, The Dark Knight Rises which finds the Caped Crusader compromised by physical handicaps. Nolan says he and director Christopher Nolan are ending their collaboration on the films with this final entry. However, Batman is huge box-office and, like James Bond, will undoubtedly survive the retirement of the current leading man. For more click here
Ken Russell with Twiggy on the set of The Boyfriend (1971)
By Lee Pfeiffer
Director Ken Russell, who once seemed destined to enter his family's shoe business, has died after a series of strokes at age 84. Russell served in the British navy before using his talents as a photographer to become a documentary film maker. Once he began making major studio films, they were often steeped in controversy. Russell seemed to have little regard for whether his movies had boxoffice appeal. Instead, he focused on his own creative visions of storytelling. One of Russell's most acclaimed films, the 1970 version of D.H. Lawrence's Women in Love earned him as Oscar nomination and was both a critical and financial success. The films he made in the years after were not as well regarded. His 1971 film The Devils was considered so shocking that it has been censored and cut into various versions throughout the world. The BFI is scheduled to release on DVD the most complete version to date of the X-rated film next year. Russell's other prominent films often dealt with the subject of music, ranging from classical to rock. They include The Music Lovers, Mahler, The Boy Friend and the screen version of the Who's Tommy. He also directed the rock-themed Lisztomania. Among his other films are Altered States, Crimes of Passion, Savage Messiah, Valentino and The Lair of the White Worm. His first major feature was also one of the few mainstream commercial movies he had been associated with: the third, and last Harry Palmer feature film Billion Dollar Brain (1967).
As Russell's projects became more esoteric, his boxoffice record was affected and major studios no longer wanted to employ him. He became known for his eccentricities and his ability to shock even during casual personal encounters with fans and friends. Still, he maintains a loyal following among those who treasure films of the 1960s and 1970s and he lived to see a major revival of interest in his work.
(On a personal level, Cinema Retro extends its sympathies to Ken's family. Ken's film The Devils is the subject of a major article by John Exshaw in issue #21 in which the author called for the release of the film in its uncut format. Sadly, Ken will not be able to see that dream realized. Ken also recently invited Cinema Retro writer Matthew Field to his home to discuss the making of Billion Dollar Brain for our forthcoming Harry Palmer special issue. We are grateful to this talented man for his support of our endeavors.)
Buyer beware: the sleeve shown here indicates Zero Mostel and Vanessa Redgrave are in the film. They are not.
By Lee Pfeiffer
The White Bus (aka Red, White and Zero) is an experimental film by future acclaimed director Lindsay Anderson. Running a scant 46 minutes, the movie was intended to be one third of a feature film that consisted of other offbeat stories by different directors. For various reasons, the other segments were never completed, thus leaving Anderson's work an orphan. MGM has released The White Bus as one of its burn-to-order DVD titles. The merits of the film are debatable. It's visually striking. Filmed primarily in B&W with occasional short sequences in color, the movie is a fairly incomprehensible critique of British society. Like Bryan Forbes' The Whisperers, the movie was largely photographed in and around Manchester and the city fairs equally bad in Anderson's work. The plot, such as a it is, centers on an unnamed young woman (Patricia Healey) who is bored working in a London office. We see her at the end of another mundane day getting ready to leave for home. However, the viewer is then exposed to a pair of legs dangling from above her desk. Someone has hanged themselves, but no one in the office pays the slightest bit of attention. The girl takes a train to Manchester and ends up inexplicably deciding to board a white tourist bus that is packed with an eclectic assortment of international eccentrics. The bus stops at various locations including factories and the group is escorted about by the Lord Mayor (Arthur Lowe) who is decked out in full regalia.
There are bizarre sequences that are at times rather mesmerizing - like outtakes from an episode of The Prisoner in that they mingle realism with fantasy. Anderson seems to be making a cynical comment about the degradation of society and the loss of individualism, though the message is muddled amidst the arresting visual aspects of the film. Consequently, the whole enterprise becomes rather frustrating and wearying. Anderson has something to say but is so obtuse about making his point that the film becomes rather like one of those pretentious movies designed to please no one other than pseudo intellectuals who populate panels at film festivals.
There are some other talented people involved in this enterprise including future Oscar winning producer Michael Deeley (The Italian Job, Blade Runner, The Deer Hunter), acclaimed film maker and movie historian Kevin Brownlow (It Happened Here) and screenwriter Shelagh Delaney, whose novel the segment is based on. Young Anthony Hopkins also has a brief bit in the film. Anderson fans will certainly want to check out this early endeavor, but for the average viewer its rather difficult to warm to.
Note: it's come to our attention that the sleeve depicted on Oldies.com doesn't reflect the screener copy we received. It has been retitled Red, White and Zero and the sleeve says the movie stars Zero Mostel and Vanessa Redgrave, who have nothing whatsoever to do with this film!
Space: 1999 was one of my favorite shows as a
child.Even before Star Wars changed my life, I eagerly watched Martin Landau and
Barbara Bain and their adventures in outer space in this series created by
Gerry Anderson.Unlike its predecessor Star Trek, the show ran for just two
seasons.From 1975 to 1977, I was treated
to a view of the future that was both exciting and ominous.I say was because the difference between
seeing this show as a child and seeing it now as an adult is night and
day.At the time, I really was convinced
that the show took place in outer space.Viewing the episodes today, the special effects don’t look quite so
convincing, to put it charitably.
a child, I never realized the show was a British production.In the series opener, the moon has become a
garbage heap for earth’s nuclear waste.An accident occurs, causing a cataclysmic eruption that occurs on
September 13, 1999.The force is so
enormous that it knocks the moon out of its orbit, and the result is that many
earthlings are sent spiraling into outer space.Most of the episodes are predicated on the fantastic, not the
realistic.If you are a fan of this
series, this Blu-ray purchase of the complete first season is a
no-brainer.Although the series was
released in the U.S. on standard DVD nearly ten years ago, this new Blu-ray set
puts that DVD set to shame, as the Blu-ray collection is mastered from the
original camera negatives and looks as though the show was just made
today.The 7-disc set is from A & E.
the show is obviously inspired by Douglas Trumbull’s work on Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and has a Logan’s Run (1976) look to it.Most of the show is relegated to the
soundstages, and it cannot compare to today’s action shows for sheer
excitement.Still, it is a great time
capsule of the type of show that passed for entertainment just over thirty-five
years ago.Some of the music is a bit
silly, and the episodes do run at a snail’s pace, but for true fans of the show
you absolutely cannot go wrong with this set.
would stand to reason that since season one has been released, there should be
a release of season two sometime soon.I
am looking forward to this set, as I recall seeing the show’s only two-part
episode “The Bringers of Wonder” in 1977 and my younger sister and I were quite
frightened of the gooey creatures from this story.
My love of horror films didn’t start
until I was twelve, but as a child in 1974 I recall seeing scenes from a film
that featured a white poodle and a monster with eerie, red eyes. I didn’t know the name of it until my
grandmother bought a VHS copy of Horror
Express in September 1985 from K-mart for the then unheard of amount of
eleven dollars.I immediately recognized
the images and was delighted to finally know the film that had unnerved me
Express takes place at
the turn of the 20th Century.Sir
Alexander Saxton (Christopher Lee), a British anthropologist, discovers frozen fossils
during an archeological dig and takes them aboard the Tran-Siberian Express en
route to England.Accompanying him are
his colleague Dr. Wells (Peter Cushing) and his assistant Mrs. Jones (Alice
Reinheart).Almost immediately, people begin
to turn up dead if they approach or look into the crate which harbors a
defrosted two million year-old creature which possesses a strong red eye that
sucks the brain power out of anyone who confronts it.The creature’s stare causes the eyes of its
victims to bleed and turn opaque white, and it possesses some ability to remove
memories from its victims, the evidence of which appears in the form of
removing the victim’s skull cap and exposing the brain which is smooth and free
of lines and impressions.What starts
out as a run-of-the-mill monster film becomes a much more interesting fright
fest, particularly as a loose adaptation of the novella “Who Goes There?” by
John W. Campbell, Jr. (which itself provided the basis for The Thing from Another World (1951) and John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982)).Telly Savalas, of all people, shows up as an aggressive Cossack determined
to find out why people are dying on the train.There is a neat explanation regarding the origin of the monster: when
the creature’s eye is removed and studied under a microscope, images of
dinosaurs can be seen, in addition to the earth from outer space, indicating
that it has been frozen for millions of years and that it is not of this earth.
After many different public domain releases
on VHS and several DVD incarnations, Horror
Express has finally been given the respect that it deserves from the fine
folks at Severin Films.In their new
Blu-ray and DVD combo pack, Severin has provided a wonderful assortment of
• Introduction by Fangoria editor Chris Alexander
• Murder on the Trans-Siberian
Express: Interview with director Eugenio Martin
• Notes from the Blacklist:
Producer Bernard Gordon discusses the McCarthy Era
• 1973 Audio Interview with Peter Cushing
• Telly and Me: Interview with
composer John Cacavas
• Theatrical Trailer
• Trailers for Psychomania, The House That Dripped Blood, and Nightmare Castle
• Easter Egg: visit to the train station location
To see Horror Express look this good is a rare treat indeed.There are some scratches on the film and some
splices here and there, but nothing to carp about.The introduction by Chris Alexander is
spirited and informative, and the interview with composer John Cacavas is a joy
to watch as he talks about how he got the project, and his long-standing
professional relationship with Telly Savalas.His score for this film is very eerie, memorable, and fits the movie
like a glove.
It was an iconic moment in American political history: at a 1962 birthday celebration for President John F. Kennedy held at Madison Square Garden, Marilyn Monroe was among the high powered celebrities gathered to pay homage to the youngest commander-in-chief. When Marilyn Monroe emerged onstage, she sang a breathless version of Happy Birthday to a clearly beaming JFK who obviously enjoyed the highly sensual aspects of the rendition. (It has long been rumored, but unconfirmed, that the two were having an affair.) Now new details emerge that toss a bit of cold water on the sexual aspect of Marilyn's performance of the song. Seems the legendary star got to the Garden late and was completely out of breath by the time she found the proper entrance to the stage. For more click here
The BBC is reporting that 31 year old actor Ben Wishaw will play the gadgets master "Q" in the next James Bond film Skyfall. The report hasn't been officially confirmed by Eon Productions. If true, Wishaw would follow in the footsteps of actors Peter Burton, Desmond Llewelyn, Alec McCowan and John Cleese, all of whom provided 007 with his state of the art weaponry and gadgets. Wishaw would be the youngest actor to play the role. The character would be returning to the series following his absence in the two Daniel Craig Bond movies. Click here for more
Many of our readers told us they bought this as a Christmas gift last year so we're puttin' up our Dukes again!
Forget about that digital shoehorn with the image of Elvis on it that you were going to get for the guy in your life - here's a far better gift idea: The Official John Wayne Monopoly Game. Authorized by Wayne Enterprises, the set includes key films, stills and locations based on the Duke's classic films. Tokens include: John Wayne's Cowboy Hat, John Wayne's Cowboy Boot, John Wayne's Belt Buckle, John Wayne's Director's Chair, Duke the Dog, Stagecoach.
Three photographs by photographer David Hurn showing actress Shirley Eaton being gilded in paint for Goldfinger have sold at auction for £2,580. The price is considered to be quite high since the photographs themselves have been widely printed over the decades. For more click here
Were movies really better in the era of Bogie and Bacall?
The philosopher Paul Varty once famously said, "The trouble with our times is that the future is not what it used to be." So too are predictions about the future of the motion picture industry. While technology keeps improving, some critics, including Roger Ebert, question whether the film industry as we know it can survive. Will we see the end of the communal aspects of experiencing the same film in the same place at the same time in favor of watching movies on our personal entertainment devices? Will films continue to deteriorate in quality to the point that we'll some day see the likes of Adam Sandler honored as the Chaplin of his era? New York Times film critic A.O. Scott examines the pros and cons of contemporary cinema as well as what he believes the future of the industry will be. Click here to read.
Sir Roger Moore returns to television on December 3 in a Hallmark Hall of Fame family movie, A Princess for Christmas (see photo above). Sir Roger also reflected recently on James Bond films past and present: he's a big fan of Daniel Craig and acknowledges that if he had to do as many stunts during his tenure as 007, "I would have been dead after the first movie!" He also says the 1977 flick The Spy Who Loved Me was the most fun to film. For more click here
La La Land Records has issued a 2-CD original soundtrack recording of Dimitri Tiomkin's score for the 1963 epic 55 Days at Peking. The Samuel Bronston film remains woefully underrated in its telling of the rebellion by the Chinese Boxer movement against American and European governments that they perceived had encroaching influence in China. The resulting clash saw the U.S. and European garrisons fighting against overwhelming odds. The film, which mingles the merits of the political stances of both sides with major battle sequences, starred Charlton Heston, Ava Gardner and David Niven. Tiomkin's wonderful score can now be enjoyed in its true glory- but you'd better hurry. This is limited to only 2500 units. Click here to order
It was raining outside and I waswrapped up in my warm office listening to the
2-CD soundtrack to The Great Escape
and enjoying designing the Hatari!
feature for next May's magazine. I was feeling good. All was going well... and
then there was a knock at the door. Damn! It turned out to be the postman, and
he delivered a package that was to throw out the rest of my carefully planned
day. For inside the package was Marcus Hearn's new book from Titan, 'The Hammer
Vault' - a deluxe large format hardback book packed with sensational,
never-before-seen material from the archives of Britain's most famous film
studio. Marcus, who has written for Cinema Retro on several occasions, has
already authored three books about Hammer: 'The Hammer Story' (with Alan
Barnes), the brilliant 'Hammer Glamour' and the to-die-for 'The Art of Hammer',
but for me, this is the best of the lot. Following the studio's history from
the early 30s to present day, Marcus has unearthed rare stills, publicity
material, documents and letters - some from the personal scrapbooks of the late
Michael Carreras and Peter Cushing. There are even photos of props, Tom
Chantrell poster artwork, and projects never made. This is a must-have book,
especially in time for Christmas. I've only spent about thirty minutes looking
through it so far, but it threw out my whole work schedule for the day. Damn
(The book will be available for shipping in December)
The first photos have surfaced from Skyfall and they show an unshaven Daniel Craig filming in Trafalgar Square. Not much can be diagnosed from them, but for Bond fans any glimpse of the new film is welcome. Click here for more
James Bond's Rolex watch from the 1973 film Live and Let Die has sold at a Christies auction for $198,000. The watch featured prominently in the movie, which marked Roger Moore's debut as 007. The Rolex had been fitted out by Q Branch with a number of gadgets: it could act as a super strong magnet and contained a buzz saw that Bond uses to save his life when he finds himself in a deathtrap. For more click here
A line-up of Eon greats at the National History Museum in 2002, where Syd was promoting his autobiography. (L to R): Ken Adam, Syd Cain, Peter Lamont and Michael G. Wilson. (Photo copyright Dave Worrall. All rights reserved).
By Lee Pfeiffer
Syd Cain, the respected art director and production designer, has died at age 93. Syd's death is a personal loss to many of us at Cinema Retro who considered him a friend. His remarkable career included a long association with the James Bond films. He began on the very first film, Dr. No, in 1962 as art director, working with the legendary production designer Ken Adam. When Adam wasn't available for the second film, From Russia With Love, Syd took over for the art direction and production design duties. Syd was billed as the production designer for the 1969 Bond classic On Her Majesty's Secret Service in 1969, playing a crucial role in the design of the Piz Gloria sets that served as the Alpine HQ of Blofeld. He would return to the fold several years later as Supervising Art Director for Roger Moore's debut as 007 in Live and Let Die (1973). Cain also did other films for Bond producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman including the Eon Productions comedy Call Me Bwana and the Saltzman-produced Harry Palmer thriller Billion Dollar Brain. In the 1950s he also worked for Broccoli and his former partner Irving Allen and their Warwick Films company.
Other major films that Cain served as art director or production designer for include Alfred Hitchcock's Frenzy, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, The Road to Hong Kong, Lolita, Farenheit 451 and Bond director Peter Hunt's Shout at the Devil. Cain also had a long association with producer Euan Lloyd, working with him on The Wild Geese, Who Dares Wins and Wild Geese II. In 1995, Cain renewed his association with the Bond franchise, designing storyboards for the 1995 blockbuster GoldenEye.
Cain remained active in his later years, attending many Bond-themed events. On a personal note, I recall having him appear as a surprise guest at an event I was holding at Pinewood Studios in the late 1990s. Syd was shocked and humbled at the degree of interest attendees had in his work and he kept them spellbound when he unveiled a portfolio of some of his original storyboards. In 2002, Dave Worrall and I had the honor of assisting Syd with writing his autobiography, Not Forgetting James Bond, which we also published. It was fascinating to read his first-hand comments about the making of the 007 series. As with many alumni from Eon-produced films, the company always maintained reverence for his work and legacy and invited Syd to high profile events relating to the world of Bond. We join them in mourning his passing.
On the 30th anniversary of her death, Romy Schneider is the subject of a column by Evelyne Politanoff, who points out why the European acting sensation succeeded in becoming far more than just another sex kitten of the era. Schneider is also the subject of a major photo exhibition in France. For more click here
Allen in his first film as star and director, Take the Money and Run (1969)
my many favorite Woody Allen quotes, the most often quoted is:“I don’t want to achieve immortality
through my work, I want to achieve it through not dying,” Woody Allen once
said.While he may not achieve the
latter, the former is inevitable.
Masters premieres “Woody Allen: A Documentary,” Robert Weide’s masterful
documentary which spans the amazingly and innovatively creative and prolific
career of an American original.
“Not everybody has
so much to say about life as Woody Allen,” Martin Scorsese comments.Scorsese
also talks about the “two different New York’s” that come from each of their
cinematic points of view:The
former’s vision embodied in the rough and tumble “Mean Streets” with a young
Robert DeNiro and Harvey Keitel, versus the latters’ embodied in “Annie Hall”
and “Manhattan,” the pristinely beautiful New York City panoramic backdrops
accompanied by a precisely coordinated George Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue
is peerless,” said Chris Rock.“Maybe Babe Ruth can be compared to him. Most people last 20 years.He’s been doing this for over 40.”“He’s the best actors’ director I’ve
worked with,” said Naomi Watts.
the New York premiere at The Film Forum, whose attendees included Jerry
Seinfeld, Dick Cavett, and Tony Roberts, writer Director and Producer Weide
talked about his relentless yet genial pursuit of Allen for almost two
decades.Initially, Allen declined;
concerned about a retrospective while he was still in the middle of his
career.Three years ago, Weide
approached Allen again and said “it’s time.”This time Allen agreed.Weide, who had done documentaries about
The Marx Brothers, WC Fields, and Lenny Bruce, was particularly excited about
doing a piece about “someone I experienced in my own
two travel, both figuratively and literally, to Allen’s Brooklyn neighborhood,
where he recalls his childhood, the parks he played in and the majestic movie
theaters where he saw the films that shaped his creative life.
Allen’s and Diane Keaton’s Alvy Singer and Annie Hall’s staying up all night
talking on a bench in the shadow of the 59th Street Bridge is one of
the most famous and romantic images in film history.The documentary also solves one of
the great mysteries that have bewildered romantics worldwide since 1979- the
location of that park bench.
was a pain in the neck to film.I had to get up at three in
the morning,” Allen recalled.“We
had to bring our own bench.”
about Scarlett Johansson and Penelope Cruz, Allen made a general statement about
acting:“If you’re an artist, you
have to say something.It
can’t just be technique.”
four hour program, which airs in two parts Sunday and Monday evening November
20st and 21nd, is the journey of a kid from Midwood who
started writing jokes for columnists, to writing and directing plays at Tamiment
in The Poconos, to writing for the legendary Sid Caesar, to doing his own
standup, to writing and directing his own films, and developing an incomparable
and unique cinematic voice.
still works at the same typewriter he bought as a teenager from a man who
promised that the writing machine would outlast its new owner.He reaches into a drawer of hand
scrawled notes.“I don’t care about
commercial success and as a result I rarely achieve it,” Allen
to his self-deprecating side which became the core of his film persona, he
said:“I’ve achieved everything
I’ve set out to do:I became a
writer, a movie actor, then a director.I wanted to play jazz and I’ve played in parades and in joints in New
Orleans.And I still feel like
somehow I got screwed.” Fortunately, his audience has not.
a fun and emotional ride.
Retro contributor Eddy Friedfeld teaches The History of American Comedy at NYU
those who missed part one last night, they can stream now on http://pbs.org/americanmasters. Part two will
stream there after tonight’s broadcast.
U.S. DVD release is via New Video & people can preorder now at Shop PBS.
If you grew up anywhere New York City in the 1950s-1970, WPIX (Channel 11) was an integral part of your life. In its prim, the network offered an eclectic mix of classic re-runs ranging from Three Stooges shorts to Perry Mason, The Addams Family and The Munsters. It was also the home of New York Yankees baseball back when the sport was worth caring about. Bozo the Clown also called WPIX home (though we are always amused by Jerry Seinfeld's rhetorical question: "Why does Bozo need to tell us he's a clown?") The kids shows were introduced by local personalities such as Captain Jack McCarthy and Officer Joe Bolton, who became local celebrities themselves with enthusiastic followings. WPIX also ran the "classic 39" episodes of Jackie Gleason's The Honeymooners literally for decades, thus ensuring younger generations became fans of the program. Click here for a video montage of wonderful moments from the glory days of WPIX.
Sharon Stone has confirmed she has signed for the forthcoming Linda Lovelace biopic. However, the 53 year old actress is not playing the legendary porn queen from Deep Throat. That would be too hard for audiences to swallow. Instead, Stone will play Lovelace's mother. For more click here
U.N.C.L.E. fans may have to settle for their DVD collections- it looks like the feature film won't happen.
We may have been the first media outlet to refer to the Man From U.N.C.L.E. curse years ago when we began writing about all the aborted attempts to transfer the classic TV series to the big screen. We certainly weren't the last to use that term, as indicated by the many web sites now commenting on yet the latest bad news relating to director Steven Soderbergh's long-planned U.N.C.L.E. feature film. Not only did George Clooney drop out of playing Napoleon Solo, but Bradley Cooper declined to replace him. Now Soderbergh appears to have dropped out of the project himself, citing budget decreases that would make it impossible for him to film a retro-based major film. For more click here
In Clint Eastwood's generally underrated 1975 thriller The Eiger Sanction, the macho actor/director took an admittedly neanderthal view of gay men. The villain of the piece, played by Jack Cassidy, is subject to every type of ugly stereotype imaginable. Although I haven't seen the film in years, I also recall Eastwood's character, in a cringe-inducing sequence, referring to a gay man as some sort of diseased miscreant. No word on whether Eastwood now regrets filming those scenes, but his views have evolved over the decades. In a recent interview with New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, Eastwood demonstrates he has a far more nuanced view of homosexuality. He favors gay marriage ("Why not?"), cites the importance of the Stonewall revolt and says that the modern definition of a gay relationship is no longer confined to sex acts. Eastwood also discusses his sensitive treatment of J. Edgar Hoover's alleged homosexuality. He doesn't believe Hoover ever consummated the act with his long-term male secretary, but believes they were genuinely in love. He also laughs at recent revelations that he was once considered to be a vice presidential running mate with the first President Bush. To read click here
Los Angeles detectives have reopened the investigation into the death of actress Natalie Wood who drowned in 1981. Wood and her husband Robert Wagner had invited actor Christopher Walken to join them on what turned out to be an ill-fated moonlight cruise on their yacht. Wood was co-starring with Walken in the movie Brainstorm at the time.This much is known: Wagner and Walken ultimately got into an alcohol-fueled argument, possibly over Wood's affections. At some point, Wood ended up in the water and drowned. Wagner and Walken always maintained they had no idea how this occurred and the coroner ruled her death an accident. From the beginning, police were criticized for conducting a shoddy investigation. Now the captain of the yacht has alerted police that he lied to them back in 1981 and didn't reveal certain information that would indicate Wagner was in some way responsible for Wood's death. L.A. Police are saying Wagner is not considered a suspect but they have received additional facts that have caused them to reopen the investigation. The captain's motives and honesty have been criticized and police did not reveal who else also provided new information. Wood's death at the age of 43 has long been considered one of Hollywood's greatest mysteries. Speculation that she went for a fatal swim was refuted by those who knew her: she had a lifelong fear of the water, especially at night. For more click here
Excited to hear about your 8-page feature on "Dark of the Sun". Earlier
this year, I finally got a re-mastered DVD through Warner Bros
Archives. It's a beautiful print (unfortunately no special features) and
the film holds up remarkably well. It's gratifying to see one of the best
action films ever get some long-overdue recognition. As I'm sure you know, it's
a "guilty pleasure" of both Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino (part of the
reason Tarantino cast Rod Taylor as Churchill in "Inglorious Basterds".) As for "The White Buffalo", I obviously liked the film better than you did.
I never really thought of it as "horror" movie-western hybrid, but I was struck
by its mythic, haunting ambiance. One of the many things I admired about it was
the authentic-sounding period dialogue. How many films use words like
Retro Responds: Thanks, Ray...We're probably the only magazine on the planet that would feature a film like Dark of the Sun in such detail, but the movie is a true gem. I totally agree that it stands up well over time and in fact is far superior to just about every action movie made today. Re: The White Buffalo, I do think the film is a failure, but I will concede at least it's an original and ambitious failure. However, I think in its attempt to be highbrow, it comes across as somewhat pretentious. The film is ultimately undone by an uneven script and some distractingly cheesy special effects. However, before anyone puts much stock in my opinions, I also consider The Ghost and Mr. Chicken to be a comedy classic. - Lee Pfeiffer
(Dark of the Sun will be featured in Cinema Retro issue #22 in a major article by contributor Howard Hughes.)
Elvis' meeting with President Richard M. Nixon forms the basis for a forthcoming feature film.
Suddenly Elvis Presley is hot in Hollywood again. No less than four Elvis projects are in various stages of development including actor/director Carey Elwes' Elvis & Nixon, which pertains to the legendary (if bizarre) meeting between the King and President Nixon that resulted in Elvis being appointed some sort of honorary anti-drug spokesperson for the administration. One stumbling block to all this: obtaining the rights to Elvis' music can be costly and time-consuming. For more click here
As we enter our 8th year of publishing, we'd like to thank each of our loyal readers for helping us keep the dream alive. It's not easy maintaining a magazine in the age of the internet, but we continue to thrive thanks to our many readers throughout the world. A very special thanks to those of you who subscribe to Cinema Retro. Frankly, there is no greater way of helping us out (unless you have a few million bucks laying around that you'd like to donate). Every subscription goes a long way to ensuring that we'll be able to maintain the high standards you've come to expect- with a minimum amount of advertising. We've also been able to maintain our pricing without a single increase in eight years, despite soaring costs for printing and mailing. Every issue will continue to be a limited edition collector's item. In fact with the closing of Borders stores in the USA, readers have even more reason to subscribe. Not only does this limit the number of venues you can buy Cinema Retro from, but we've also adjusted our print runs accordingly, meaning that every issue is more limited than ever since we are no longer supplying Borders.So thanks to all our subscribers- especially those who have so promptly renewed their subscriptions! By doing so, you have ensured you won't have to pay the sky high prices that sold out issues of Cinema Retro have been commanding on eBay (up to $150 in some cases!)
We'd also like to especially thank the many talented writers, actors, producers and directors who contribute to our magazine. Our regular staffers do a tremendous job of bringing many forgotten films to the fore- and our celebrity contributors go a long way in explaining why Cinema Retro is now widely read in the film industry in both America and England. Just some of the people who have contributed to us in the past gives you an idea of why we're humbled by their support:
Sir Roger Moore, Sir Christopher Lee, Michael York, Norman Jewison, William Shatner, Robert Vaughn, David V. Picker, Elke Sommer, Hugh Hefner, Karen Black, Malcolm McDowell, Joe Dante, Roger Corman, David McCallum, Ernest Borgnine, Barbara Bouchet, Sir Ken Adam, Sir Christopher Frayling, Lalo Schifrin, Richard Kiel, Caroline Munro, Shirley Anne Field, Lewis Gilbert, Guy Hamilton, Luciana Paluzzi, Angie Dickinson, James Caan, Michael Winner as well as such late, great talents as Don Knotts, Cliff Robertson and Jeremy Slate.
For those of you who are among the tens of thousands of people who read this web site every day, why not take the plunge and give the magazine a try? Purchasing one issue won't make a dent in your wallet and you might become addicted.
There is plenty of excitement in store for season 8 of Cinema Retro beginning with our eye-popping cover girl for issue #22, Sybil Danning. As usual, this issue will be eclectic in terms of content: major examinations of Jack Cardiff's great adventure film Dark of the Sun (aka The Mercenaries) and special features on two Cinerama epics: Krakatoa, East of Java and Sir Christopher Frayling's magnificent study of the making of How the West Was Won. In the next twelve months, other major features will include John Boorman's Deliverance, the films of Elvis Presley, the history of movie comic book tie-ins and rare back lot photos from the James Bond films.
So get on board the Cinema Retro bandwagon and enjoy the most unique film magazine in the world- dedicated to the celebration of films from the 1960s and 1970s.
Closing Channel D
Dave Worrall and Lee Pfeiffer
Click here for subscription information for season 8 (issues 22, 23 and 24)
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We've railed for years about meticulously-crafted feature films being thwarted when released to DVD due to awful sleeve designs, or worse, inaccurate information. In some cases, stars are credited who don't appear in the film and in other cases stills from a different movie are used to illustrate the package. A new film version of Ayn Rand's legendary novel Atlas Shrugged is the latest case for embarrassment. Rand's book has long been cited by political conservatives as a text-book guide to a form of financial Social Darwinism (i.e the most productive members of society thrive when freed from government restraints and are allowed to practice self-enriching policies with a minimal amount of interference. This, they argue, benefits society as whole.) Liberals have long argued that Rand's idea of an ideal society would be one devoid of compassion and charity and the debate is as alive today as it was when Rand's book was published in 1957. A primary message of the book- and one that has been steeped in controversy- is that there simply isn't much merit in self-sacrifice. Rand argued that self-interest promotes success in life and decried government as an entity that increasingly stifles individual achievement. Thus, you can imagine how the filmmakers reacted when they discovered that sloppily-written liner notes on the DVD say the story extolls the virtues of "self-sacrifice." The video company issued an immediate mea culpa and the director expressed his frustration- but it's too late: the DVDs are on shelves worldwide. For more click here
RETRO-ACTIVE: THE BEST FROM CINEMA RETRO'S ARCHIVES
Donald Hamilton’s Serious Spy Becomes a Bond Parody By Matthew
When JFK revealed his fondness for the James Bond books by Ian Fleming, and 007—ably embodied by Sean Connery—struck box-office gold with Dr. No (1962) and its sequels, the resultant “Bondmania” set off a spy craze manifested in everything from atmospheric adaptations of Len Deighton and John le Carré to tongue-in-cheek secret agents on screens small and large. Perhaps the most successful of the latter was Matt Helm, a singing and swinging spy played in four films for Columbia Pictures by Rat Pack member Dean Martin, who unlike Connery shared in the profits from the outset via his own company, Meadway-Claude Productions. The former partner of Bond producer Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli - Irving Allen - was playing catch-up after deeming Fleming’s work unworthy of filming, which speeded his breakup with Broccoli. But ironically, his quartet of quintessential spy spoofs was actually based on a series of gritty Gold Medal paperback originals by Donald Hamilton that had been launched by Fawcett before Kennedy was even in office, or Connery started shaking his martinis.
STELLA STEVENS IN SEXY PUBLICITY POSE FOR "THE SILENCERS"
Cinema Retro has received the following press release from MI6 Confidential magazine:
(London, UK, November 10th 2011)
MI6 Confidential, the full-colour magazine celebrating theworld of James Bond 007, returns with its twelfth issue.
The waiting is over. James Bond 23 is in production. Skyfall is coming... MI6 Confidential attended the official press conference in London to gather the intel and soak up the atmosphere. As well as the 50th anniversary in 2012, Skyfall will mark the longest gap between 007 adventures without a change of actor in the leading role. Will the extra time crafting the script, organizing the crew, scouting the locations and assembling the cast pay off? Rounding out Issue #12 of MI6 Confidential - the leading James Bond magazine - is an analysis of The Spy Who Loved Me script history, a look at the publicity hype of Diamonds Are Forever in the USA, and how Kingsley Amis' fascination with 007 lead to his one-off continuation novel 'Colonel Sun'.
Featured in this issue: • Bond With A Capital B - Complete coverage of the Skyfall press conference in London • Skyfall Timeline - Tracking all the pre-production rumours and milestones • Selling Diamonds - How marketing helped Bond re-conquer American audiences • From SPECTRE To Stromberg - The evolution of The Spy Who Loved Me shooting script • Bonding With Kingsley Amis - A look back at the author's career and fascination with 007 • The Genesis of Colonel Sun - How the first 007 continuation novel came about • Agent Under Fire - A look back at the best-selling game 2001 game from Electronic Arts • The Bond Connection - Designing the anti-Bond period piece Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Issue #12 is now shipping around the world.
Roy Rogers didn't earn the monicker "King of the Cowboys" for nothing. He starred in over 100 Westerns and had a highly successful TV series with his wife Dale Evans in the 1950s. On what would have been his 100th birthday, his son Dusty turns the spotlight on his legendary father and asks us to recall the impact he had on popular culture. Click here to read
The latest screen incarnation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic The Great Gatsby is being shot in Australia by director Baz z Luhrmann with Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role. Click here for on set photos
Memories of legendary bombs like "Norbit" must be vague to Eddie Murphy. By backing out of hosting the Oscars, his chances of making a big comeback might be endangered.
Eddie Murphy has told A.M.P.A.S. that he is backing out of hosting next year's Oscar awards ceremony. Although he issued a graciously-worded statement, Murphy's decision was actually a response to the Academy pressuring director Brett Ratner to resign from next year's ceremonies. Ratner, who directed Murphy in the recently-released Tower Heist flick, came under fire after issuing an anti-gay slur as well as crude sexual comments regarding his love life with former flame, actress Olivia Munn. Murphy's decision is based on his support of Ratner, who he considers to be a personal friend. The Oscar gig was to be a central part of Murphy's grand plans to stage a comeback. He might regret the decision: the heavily-hyped Tower Heist opened to lightweight grosses at the boxoffice. Click here for more
Author Quentin Rowan, who writes under the name Q.R. Markham, has a new spy novel out: Assassin of Secrets. The book was already on sale when when astute James Bond fans discovered that Rowan had engaged in wholesale plagiarism of novels by James Bond authors John Gardner and Cinema Retro's own Raymond Benson. Other prominent authors were also plagiarized by Rowan. The book was pulled from shelves by the publishers in America and the UK and refunds will be offered to all hapless readers who purchased the it. For more click here
Two of our spies are missing: the roles of actors to play Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin have yet to be cast.
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. feature film curse continues. Since the late 1970s, efforts to turn the classic 1960s TV series starring Robert Vaughn, David McCallum and Leo G. Carroll have been thwarted at the last minute by a variety of factors. George Clooney was to play the Vaughn role of Napoleon Solo in a big screen production directed by Steven Soderbergh. Clooney dropped out because of old injuries that might have precluded him from performing certain stunts. Then Bradley Cooper seemed to be ready to take up the mantle until word came that he, too, has dropped out. At this point it looks like they may have to go back and hire Vaughn and McCallum for the project! No word on who is next in line for consideration but with filming due to start soon, Soderbergh is running out of time. For more click here
Alejandro Amenábar’s The Others (2001) is a brilliantly scary
film.Almost as scary is realizing that
ten years have transpired since this film played in theaters.Released just one month prior to the 9/11 terrorist
attacks, The Others is the flipside
of Peter Medak’s The Changeling
(1980), a glorious ghost story with enough style and substance to draw
comparisons to the genre’s crown jewels: Jack Clayton’s The Innocents (1961) and Robert Wise’s The Haunting (1963), both of which are in dire need of Blu-ray
The film opens with a series of
hand-drawn images that segue into the house where all of the action takes
place.This is a device used many times
in films, but it is particularly striking in The Others.It is 1945 and off the coast of France on the
island of Jersey lives Grace, played skillfully by Nicole Kidman, and her two
children Anne (Alakina Mann) and Nicholas (James Bentley).Both of these actors are wonderful, and they recall
the dynamic created between Martin Stephens and Pamela Franklin in the
aforementioned Innocents.They suffer from a skin disorder that will
result in a severe outburst that will kill them if they are exposed to sunlight;
this requires that they live their lives indoors, away from the windows.Unexpectedly, three servants show up to serve
Grace and the kids, and then strange things begin to happen.From this point on, the audience is kept in
the dark, just like the characters, and once the strange revelation comes about
near the film’s end, all is revealed with the presence of light.It is wonderful to see that a major studio was
responsible for distributing such a beautifully-realized work, one that not
only clicked with critics but was also financially successful at the box office.
What is all the more amazing about this
film is that director Amenábar also wrote the screenplay and composed the
musical score; he’s a true jack-of-all trades.The Others is one of the best
ghost stories ever filmed, and the new Blu-ray by Lionsgate Home Entertainment is
to die for.It sports an absolutely stunning
transfer and makes upgrading a no-brainer.Nearly free of grain, the image is the best available on home video
outside of a theatrical presentation.The extras which appeared on the standard DVD release from 2002 are
ported over, though it would have been nice to have a commentary included by
The iconic Iowa farm that became an indelible part of the 1989 film Field of Dreams has been sold to an investor and his wife. The good news is that these aren't the type of people to build a bank or supermarket on the site. Rather, they have been inspired by the film and and the thousands of pilgrims who visit it to build a baseball venue that is designed young people to use the location to enjoy the sport. For more click here
Day earned an Oscar nomination for the 1959 comedy hit Pillow Talk.
Screen legend Doris Day, who went into self-imposed retirement from making films in the late 1960s, will be honored by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association with their lifetime achievement award. Ms. Day, once one of the most popular stars of film, TV and the recording industry, has kept a low profile over the years, preferring to concentrate almost exclusively on animal rights projects. The real question is whether Day will show up to accept the award. She has turned down similar honors over the decades. Meanwhile, she has released a new album at age 87 and based on what we've heard, her voice is as wonderful as ever. Click here for more on the album and a sample track.
Scorsese's long-planned Sinatra biopic may be picking up steam.
Martin Scorsese has dabbled for many years with the concept of bringing the life stories of Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra to the silver screen but there has been little progress except for a number of false starts. In an interview with the New York Times, however, Leonardo DiCaprio confirms rumors that he and Scorsese are in discussions about a Sinatra biopic. Meanwhile, DiCaprio discusses the challenges of playing J.Edgar Hoover and his feelings about being so closely associated with Titanic. Click here to read
Director Martin Campbell was widely credited with bringing renewed dynamism to the James Bond franchise with his 2006 blockbuster Casino Royale. Since then, he seems to be going the route of the easy paycheck. His last film, Green Lantern, underwhelmed audiences and critics. Now he's stepping into even more dubious territory by considering bringing a cheesy TV series to the big screen: The Fall Guy. Long before he started peddling 'bionic hearing aids' in late night infomercials on American TV, Lee Majors had several successful TV series under his belt. The Fall Guy was one of them, with Majors playing a stuntman who moonlights as a bounty hunter. The low rent concept of making a big screen production from a less-than-memorable TV series only illustrates how devoid Hollywood is in terms of generating original ideas. All this on the heels of the earth-shaking news that Kung Fu is also headed to the silver screen. For more click here
Roger Ebert Presents is a half-hour syndicated program that carries on the tradition started by the legendary film critic and his colleague Gene Siskel back in the 1970s. At the time, serious discussion of movies and the film industry was largely relegated to brief reviews sandwiched in on local news broadcasts. Ebert and Siskel changed all that by pioneering a program that featured intelligent debates about movies- and not just high brow fare. The two Chicago critics would often disparage prestigious releases as pretentious and lavish praise on other movies that were often derided as "B" films. In doing so, they revolutionized film criticism in general and exposed millions of people to movies that would otherwise have languished in obscurity. A lot has changed in the ensuing years. Siskel has passed away and Ebert has been robbed by health problems of his ability to speak. Ironically, he's probably as influential as ever. Ebert has mastered social media programs to keep in touch with his readers and he continues to write high profile, well-regarded books. He and his wife Chaz have also valiantly tried to keep Roger Ebert Presents on the air. Despite the fact that the show is widely syndicated to a large audience, the Eberts have not been able to find funding to continue for the 2012 season. In this era of austerity in the arts, Roger and Chaz have been forced to violate the key rule of producing: never fund the project yourself. That's exactly what the Eberts have been doing: paying the bills for all costs associated with the program. They have not even been taking salaries for their efforts. However, they can't continue to do so and have put out a public appeal for potential investor(s) to save the show.
I have never met Roger Ebert and my sole interaction with him was exchanging signed copies of books we had written many years ago. I have no idea if he has read Cinema Retro magazine or what he thinks of it if he does. I point this out because I have no vested personal interest in championing his cause- except for the fact that with so much sludge and valueless sleaze on TV today, it would truly be a shame if a man who is trying to maintain a bit of class and integrity in the medium would not find any takers. The budget for keeping Ebert's show (which features two young film critics) on the air wouldn't cover the coffee budget on the set of most programs. So here's hoping one of our most prolific film reviewers succeeds in his quest. For more click here
At an age at which most actors are comfortably retired, former Man From U.N.C.L.E. Robert Vaughn's career is going great guns. He not only stars in the hit UK TV series Hustle (now in its eighth year), but he has just joined the cast of Britain's long-running series Coronation Street. Vaughn is particularly popular in England and the love affair is mutual, as the Emmy-winning actor told Cinema Retro recently, he finds working in the UK to be very enjoyable. In fact, Vaughn lived there for a period of years in the early 1970s. For more click here
Kung Fu,the popular 1970s TV series starring David Carradine as an ass-kicking Shaolin monk living in the American Wild West, will be the latest show to be adapted to the big screen. Actor Bill Paxton is in discussions to direct. Click here for more
Cinema Retro columnist Tom Lisanti's new book Dueling Harlows: Race to the Silver Screen has just been released. Here is the press release:
Dueling Harlows: Race to the Silver Screen is the fascinating backstory of the competition to get two rival film biographies both titled Harlow into theaters first that quickly turned into one of the nastiest, dirtiest feuds that Hollywood ever witnessed
In 1965, in a rare occurrence not seen before or since, two motion
pictures with the same title about the same subject opened within weeks
of each other.
Carol Lynley was Jean Harlow in Bill Sargent’s Harlow a quickie B&W independent production filmed in Electronovision. Carroll Baker was Jean Harlow in Joseph E. Levine’s Harlow
a big budget color extravaganza from Paramount Pictures. Both
endeavored to tell the story of the legendary thirties blonde
bombshell’s passionate love life and her meteoric rise from bit player
to super star before her death at the young age of twenty-six.
Dueling Harlows recounts the struggle it took to get these
rival movie biographies into theaters first considering the almost daily
war-of-words between the movies’ showman producers, which almost
escalated into fisticuffs at the 1965 Academy Awards ceremony; the
casting problems each faced; the poor screenplays, which hampered the
productions; the hurried pace to complete filming causing on-set
frustration; and the law suits that followed in the aftermath. Both
movies were failures at the time but have camp appeal today.
Dueling Harlows (with 18 photos) contains new interviews
from people who worked on the movies including actors Carol Lynley,
Michael Dante, and Aron Kincaid; assistant directors Richard C. Bennett
and Tim Zinnemann; casting director Marvin Paige; plus film historian
Robert Osborne and producer David Permut. Also included are vintage
comments from Joseph Levine, Bill Sargent, Carroll Baker, Ginger Rogers,
Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., Michael Connors, and many more.
Tom Lisanti an award-winning author of seven books about Sixties Hollywood. Visit his web site www.sixtiessinema.com.
Andy Rooney, the legendary TV commentator whose three minute segments on 60 Minutes became an integral part of the show's success over the last 30 years, has died at age 92. It was only one month ago that Rooney broadcast his farewell segment, though he did plan to contribute on occasion in the future. Rooney had gone into the hospital for what was described as minor surgery but complications developed and he never recovered.
Rooney was one of the last of the "old guard" from the early days of television. His association with CBS went back 60 years. Rooney was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1941. A self-described liberal pacifist, he served as a journalist covering war zones and wrote for the famed Stars and Stripes newspaper for servicemen. He initially opposed the U.S. involvement in the war as he was against all armed conflict. However, as he progressively witnessed the atrocities committed by the Nazis, he adopted a more pragmatic philosophy and admitted that some wars were justified. After the war, Rooney entered the world of broadcast journalism, establishing a name for himself on radio and in the early days of TV as a writer and producer. Over the course of his career, he began to go before the cameras. When he began his segments titled "A Few Minutes with Andy Rooney" on 60 Minutes in the 1980s, he became an immediate, if unlikely, TV superstar. With his pudgy build and bushy eyebrows, Rooney resembled a character created by Dickens. His slice-of-life commentaries ranged from humorous observations about everyday life to poignant opinion pieces about politics. Although he was an unabashed liberal, he seemed to enjoy the respect of all viewers on the highly-rated program, even if an occasional ill-advised comment might result in a public apology to those he may have offended. Rooney would win numerous Emmys in his career and he also authored 15 best-selling books. He was one of the last contemporaries of such CBS legends as Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite.
On a personal note, I met the man only once. We were both members of the Writer's Guild of America and several years ago the Guild went on-strike in the hopes of securing better deals from producers and networks on behalf of writers, who are generally treated as necessary evils in the industry. The Guild decided to hold the annual holiday party at the famed Friar's Club in New York, but it was shaping up as a relatively glum affair. Many people in the industry were very worried about their futures, especially with TV networks depleting ranks of writers in favor of producing reality shows that didn't require full writing staffs. In the midst of the crowd, my wife and I managed to find a place to sit at a small cocktail table. A few minutes later, there was a great buzz in the crowd as Andy Rooney entered the room. He didn't do anything to call attention to himself, but his very presence immediately boosted morale and improved the atmosphere. Rooney asked us if he could sit at our table, which proved to the ultimate rhetorical question. For about 45 minutes he chatted with us and well-wishers who stopped by. He told me that although he was very wealthy, he was still a union man at heart and felt he should support the strike. He spoke about mundane aspects of life in a humorous way (although nearing 90 at the time, he would still take a public bus to his beloved football games across the river in New Jersey, though he grumbled about the process.) I also used my time with him to get some wonderful personal insights about his colleagues such as Murrow and Cronkite. He seemed uncomfortable with his fame and said he always tried to blend into a crowd, but said those damned eyebrows gave him away every time. As the evening wore on, he slipped out as quietly as he entered. However, as with every place he graced with his presence, he had left a distinct impression. It was a true privilege to know him, albeit even for a short period of time.